29 September 2010

World Bank Forum On Youth Unemployment

I had the opportunity this past week to be a part of an amazing forum being hosted by the World Bank on the issue of Global Youth Unemployment. It is a MAJOR issue facing us not just in the developing world, but in the developed world as well. From India to Germany, Sierra Leone to the USA, youth unemployment is ravaging our economic systems, facilitating environments of crime and chaos, and all but ensuring a future less bright, less successful, and less fulfilling than the present. How do we escape this fate? How do we move to build a future that empowers, enables, and energizes the human race?

While I could launch into a major discussion of what that process should look like, I'll instead leave it with a few short words and a link to mine and all of the other interviews: Rather than conceptualize the issue as youth unemployment, we need to begin to think of it as youth development. The problem isn't filling or creating jobs - it's having skilled and capable people to fill those jobs (or think up entirely new jobs in new sectors or new economies).

The webcast with my video will start at 2 PM EST, October 7. Video clips will be posted after the event and a moderated chat will continue for 24 hours. For more information and to watch the event, go to worldbank.org/openforum. I'll link to or repost my video after the conference as well!


Kyle Taylor

26 September 2010

Nice One! Sweet As! Positivity!

It's impossible to escape it. You no matter where you go people are mumbling under their breathe, shouting from the rooftops, or just speaking in a normal voice. There's nothing special or unique about the delivery. It's the content that's important. "Sweet as!" and "nice one!" are repeated on loop ALL. THE. TIME.

What do these charming phrases mean? After six months of analysis, I'm still not sure. What I've been able to work out so far is that people use them when they're describe an action, event, or person that has been deemed good. For example:

1. "Oh, my friend is visiting next week." Response: "Nice one!" Reaction: "Huh? Oh yeah, she is a nice...one...person. Wait, no, yeah, it's a nice...one...thing that she's coming. I'm sorry, what just happened?

2. "I learned the Kylie dance to "Get Outta My Way" and did it on stage at Stonewall." Response: "Sweet As!" Reaction: "Sweet as what? What's sweet? Wait, what is it sweet as? I am sweet as something or the dance is sweet as something or doing at the club is sweet as something? What's sweet and what is it sweet as?"

When delivered in the Aussie tongue with that down under twang, it's rather exciting when someone directs one of these two gems at you, even if the point, meaning, and/or intent are unclear. I've learned the best response is simply, "YEAH! Sweet as!" or "YEAH! Nice one is right!" I've included pictures of my friend Adam, who is easily the happiest human being on the face of the earth. He uses both of these statements on a regular basis.

The real kicker is this Kiwi New Zealand slang. For example, the all too common "Yeah, Nah" and "Nah, Yeah." The teaser is that these two stament mean ENTIRELY DIFFERENT THINGS. Stay tuned.


Kyle Taylor

21 September 2010

The Devastation Of Poverty In America.

This graph shows poverty rates of rich countries. Mind you, in absolute terms the USA is BY FAR the wealthiest nation on Earth.

I subscribe to a regular email news update that brings light to major issues facing the United States that don't seem to get covered anywhere else. The analysis is fantastic and the depth of research is unmatched. Their assessment of poverty in America was shocking, and I thought everyone should read it:

Intolerable Poverty In A Rich Nation

Last week, the U.S. Census Bureau released its Current Population Survey, documenting the American population's access to health insurance and family economic well-being. One stunning fact revealed by the new Census data was that "the ranks of the American poor soared to their highest level in a half a century" and that nearly "44 million Americans -- one in seven -- lived last year in homes in which the income was below the poverty level, which is about $22,000 for a family of four. While this is the largest number of people since the Census began tracking poverty 51 years ago," this figure would have been much larger without the economic policies pursued by Congress and the administration. The data is sobering to a national discourse that often omits the poor. Yet, it also points towards continued action to bring the unemployment rate down and boost demand. The country must continue successful policy initiatives that have kept millions out of poverty thus far, such as the Recovery Act, and pursue additional policies aimed at addressing the alarming fact that the world's richest country now has more people in poverty than ever before.

THE SHAME OF A NATION: The Census Bureau data finds that a shocking number of Americans are now officially classified as living in poverty. In 2009, roughly "4 million Americans fell into poverty," with a total of 43.6 million people meeting the income qualifications to be described as impoverished. The data also found that one in four African-Americans is in poverty, and that women are also particularly hurting. An analysis by the National Women's Law Center of the Census numbers found that the poverty rate for women rose to 13.9 percent last year, compared to 10.5 percent among men. Additionally, poverty rates "were substantially higher for women of color, approaching one in four among African-American women (24.6 percent compared to 23.3 percent in 2008); Hispanic women experienced a similar increase from 22.3 percent in 2008 to 23.8 percent last year." Geographically, southern and rural states tended to have the most poverty, with Mississippi faring the worst with 23.1 percent of people in poverty, with New Hampshire having only 7.8 percent.

GOOD POLICIES KEEPING PEOPLE AFLOAT: While the poverty numbers are shamefully high given the wealth of a rich nation like the United States, a number of progressive policies have served to keep millions more Americans from falling into poverty. After being passed in early 2009, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) -- commonly referred to as the stimulus -- saved or created 1.4 million to 3.3 million jobs, according to analysis by the Congressional Budget Office. Additionally, the expansion of tax credits like the Child Tax Credit (CTC), Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC), and Making Work Pay tax credit, along with additional food stamp assistance and emergency unemployment compensation kept more than 6 million Americans out of poverty, according to data provided by the Census Bureau. Expanding and extending unemployment insurance -- which faced enormous opposition from conservative pundits and politicians -- alone kept 3.3 million Americans out of poverty.

MORE TO DO: As the Center for American Progress's Melissa Boteach writes, "We can't exactly pat ourselves on the back when more than one in five (20.7 percent) of America's children lived in poverty last year." Instead, we should expand and extend policies that have served to keep Americans out of poverty and reassert ourselves to combating rising income inequality. America's earlier efforts to tackle poverty, like President Lyndon Johnson's "War On Poverty" -- included job training, special aid to poor parts of the country, and the creation of the single payer health care system for the elderly, Medicare, that brought the poverty rate down from 19 percent to 11.1 percent within less than a decade. In just two weeks, "a job-creation engine known as the TANF Emergency Fund will expire, forcing states to begin shutting down successful partnerships with the private sector that have already created nearly a quarter million jobs for low-income families. Congress must act before September 30 to extend the TANF Emergency Fund for another year and allow this innovative jobs program to continue." Congress also must continue reforms it made to the EITC that allowed "families with three or more children to earn a larger credit to reflect the higher cost of raising an additional child" and to the CTC that allowed low-income working parents "to count most of their earnings toward calculating their credit instead of arbitrarily counting only earnings above $8,500." Doing so would of course cost the federal government money, but extending these tax credits would do much more to boost the economy than extending the Bush tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans, which would have little stimulative effect on the economy. Additionally, Congress should continue to extent unemployment benefits until the unemployment rate comes back down to normal levels. While the Census numbers show an alarming rise in poverty, "it's important to remember, however, that poverty was a problem even before the Great Recession. Between 2003 and 2007 we experienced the first-ever economic 'recovery' on record where productivity and profits grew but poverty went up and median incomes fell. The middle class and low-income families did not benefit form the gains accrued over the last decade, which was due to the failed economic policies of the Bush administration and the focus on tax cuts for the wealthy that did not lead to growth in investment." Only by rebuking failed right-wing policies and championing policies that expand the social safety net, strengthen labor rights, build a more humane and efficient health care system, reward hard work with living wages, and value society's most vulnerable members, children, can the U.S. rebuild the American Dream, the idea that this a country where all can prosper, not just a select few.


Graph from here: http://sitemaker.umich.edu/salas.356/files/poverty_rates_of_rich_countries.bmp
Text from here: http://thinkprogress.org/


Kyle Taylor

17 September 2010

Third-World America?

How you seen these stats? 1 in 7 Americans is living in poverty. A nation that controls $14 trillion in wealth has somehow allowed nearly 15 percent of its citizens to slide into complete and utter devastation. What's the solution, according to Republicans and Democrats? Lower taxes! Despite the fact that income tax is lower than it has ever been in the history of the United States and was lowered further for 95% of Americans under both Republicans and Democrats, things continue to get worse. The reality is that America's income gap has simply widened too far. In fact, the USA has an income gap on par with Cambodia and Senegal. WHAT? How is this okay? Stable societies, healthy societies, and developed societies take care of every citizen - something we most certainly are not doing. Read more about it here and please think about what's going on right now. We're all better off if every American has a decent life.

Picture from here: http://images.publicradio.org/content/2008/11/21/20081121_help_33.jpg

Kyle Taylor

15 September 2010

Please Don't Buy Koch!

Those who know me are fully aware of my belief system. It stems from basic principles like equality, sustainability, and a "fair go" for every person on the planet. Over the past two years a major way of bigotry, hatred, and evil has swept across the good old US of A. While there are many people and corporations to blame, it seems that few have played a more central role that the Koch brothers. Owners of Koch industries, David and Charles have been intricately involved in - and the primary financial supporters of - The Tea Party movement, the birther movement (claiming Barack Obama is not a US citizen), the relaxing of regulations on big oil (which led to the BP disaster), the climate change skeptics movement, and the homophobic, hateful, anti-American, anti-equality Prop 8 campaign in California.

The Koch brothers fund all of these initiatives (some estimates have been put at $1 billion) thanks to their privately held company that owns a number of brands that we all use every day. One way to say "no" to this evil and hatred is to stop buying their brands, which is what I'm asking of you right now. There is no room for this type of irrational, hopeless, one-sided, wealth-based dialogue that ignores the many in favor of the powerful few. Here are there most famous brands, and here is a link to the rest of them.

Quilted Northern
Angel Soft
Vanity Fair
Mardi Gras

There are alternatives, and through your purchasing power you can send a message that hatred, lies, and innuendo are not okay.

More on the Koch brothers:

A Huffington Post Article
A Current TV piece

Image from: http://usedbooksblog.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2008/12/dr-evil.JPG


Kyle Taylor

12 September 2010

Uncertain Certainty

I am slowly but surely settling in to the 5-days a week, 8 hours a day lifestyle. Having not done “this” for several years, I’m finding it to be oddly relaxing in that I know exactly where I’m going to be most of the time, how long I’m going to be there, and what I’m going to do while I’m there. It’s life more “ordinary,” whatever that word is supposed to mean.

At the same time, there’s this odd uncertainty with so much certainty. I’m not even quite sure how to describe it, but it’s there. The uncertainty lies in all the areas that were definite before full-time employment. Questions like when I will next be in London, or when I’ll next see my parents and grandparents. Whenever I want to be was the answer most of the time.

While it seems a routine offers several definites with time and place, when you’re this far away from so many family and friends, it’s seeing people that becomes uncertain. Even skyping - because of dramatic time zone shifts and the international date line - can’t be set in stone. When are you up? When am I sleeping? I can’t do then because I’m working and you can do this other time because you’ll be in dreamland.

I’m not saying it’s good or bad, it’s just a little observation from the other side of the lifestyle spectrum - an observation that may be obvious to many but new to me. One things certain: it's all a bit uncertain.


Kyle Taylor

10 September 2010

Interview Of Doom

Now that I’m hired, I feel okay with discussing the interview that led to my current employment. It. Was. Intense. It included a 10-minute presentation to a “prospective client,” me acting as the company to which I was applying for a job. Who was playing the prospective client? The founder of the company to which I was applying!

I walked in and had to go right into my presentation. Fully suited, the window was closed and I felt like I was gasping for air. I rarely get nervous but this...this felt like my final hope. So many applications. So many months. I need a job! I wipe my brow and continue, feeling like a frantic wreck.

The presentation ends and the questions start. I’m answering questions about the company I am applying to posed by people who work for that company but who are role playing like they’re part of a prospective client. I don’t have all the answers. Window still closed. Heart still racing.

We move into the more traditional portion of the interview and things settle down a bit. I sense a sort-of good cop, bad cop scenario. It feels like one of the two interviewers hates me. My answers feel more paced but I’m still feeling a bit all over the place.

Suddenly, it’s all over. It has been 93 minutes and my suit is now acting as nothing more than a sweat retention device. I shake their hands with my balmy palm and am escorted out of the office. They close the door behind me and I breathe a sigh of relief. Did that just happen?

All I can think is, “that went terribly. No one would hire that rambling train wreck.” Six days later I get a job offer. Who knew?

Kyle Taylor

09 September 2010

The Blue Mountains

Post-Dad's Departure and Pre-Sister's Departure, we took a little jaunt inland to the Blue Mountains. We ate good food, peered over gorgeous vistas, and slept A LOT. It was utterly divine.

08 September 2010

Blissful Beaches

The Californian ideal of a picture-perfect beach is one laden with fabulous tan people working really hard to induce early-onset skin cancer. The Australian ideal of a picture-perfect beach is one laden with no forms of life other than you and your friends (who also seem to be working really hard to induce early-onset skin cancer). I’m gonna have to lean towards the Australians on this one.

DBM came for a weeklong visit! We hopped in our Spaceship (check out the picture!) and headed north along the coast. What did we find? Empty campgrounds and 7-mile beaches absent of any and all forms of life. It was utterly divine.

We shopped for groceries in a town called Buladelah, we stopped at the World’s largest fake Uluru, and we free camped, cooked, and bathed in our brilliant Spaceship Campervan. It came complete with pop-out bed, fridge, DVD player, cooker, and iPod adapter. Basically, I was in heaven. I could have lived in it. In fact, I’m considering it.

In the meantime, there’s heaps more pictures of the coast on my flickr site.

Kyle Taylor

06 September 2010

Queensland From The Air

Thanks to my awesome Dad, we took our trip up North to “the next level” (according to the marketing brochure) by enjoying a private helicopter ride over the Outback to Mount Mulligan, above the Rainforest to Cape Kimberly and Shipwreck Beach then out to sea, soaring over the Great Barrier Reef. It was one of those once-in-a-lifetime experiences where you get to see the World from an otherworldly perspective, and I loved every minute of it.

We dropped down on the very edge of Mount Mulligan (the picture of the big mountain/rock looking thing), sipped sodas on a beach accessible ONLY by helicopter, and watched whales and sea turtles dance along the edge of the reef. Plus, we did it all in a big yellow helicopter that felt so “Mission: Impossible!”

We capped off our trip by holding Koalas, petting kangaroos, and eating an absolutely obscene amount of food.

More pictures of the Helicopter trip are on my flickr site here.

More pictures of the koalas and kangaroos are on my flickr site here.

Kyle Taylor

03 September 2010

Them Queenslanders

Before I headed north everyone kept telling me, “Kyle, them Queenslanders are an interesting bunch. It’s always Queensland first, then Australia.” Already thinking that Aussies as a whole are a rather interesting bunch, I didn’t really flinch.

It turns out that Queenslanders are, well, quite an interesting bunch. It all started with the lovely Beverly, who drove the rental car shuttle from the airport. “You’re lucky I’m drivin’ you. I was supposed to get off at 6. But I’m drivin’ you. You’re lucky.” Really Beverly? Am I lucky? Aren’t you kind-of lucky that I chose your rental car company so that you could get your paycheck? “It’s been real busy,” she went on. “Real busy. Rented 60 cars today. HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA.” She burst into uproarious laughter. Why? I have no idea. Apparently renting 60 cars is very, very funny.

“Yep, I don’t always drive the shuttle. Sometimes I do the counter. We are all on salary though, so they can just keep us here as long as they darn want to. That don’t seem fair, does it?” No Beverly. It most certainly does not. “It’s hot. HAHAHAHAHA.” Pan to the shuttle riders. Complete silence. “It’s hot, isn’t it? I mean, real hot! HAHAHAHA.” Yes Beverly. “Okay, here we are. You are L-U-C-K-Y LUCKY I drove ya. I was supposed to be off at 6.” Thanks Beverly.

This joyous experience was amplified by our rainforest tour guide Peter One (because literally every tour guide we had was named Peter. No, seriously. Queensland is weird). Peter One was AWESOME - as was the hilarious old lady trio that cruised the Daintree with me - and this little rant was possibly the highlight of the day.

The topic of environmental degradation came up and Peter decided to launch into a full frontal assault on the religious right. “You know who really irritates me,” he asked rhetorically. “Those super Christians, because they think they’re going to some fantastic eternity after this world so don’t give a S$%T about this world, which is the only one we’ve all got. So they just trash it. That just irritates me.”

Man, Queenslanders are awesome. More Daintree Rainforest Pictures Are On My Flickr Site.

Kyle Taylor

01 September 2010


Well, it took several months and 43 applications that led to just 2 interviews, but I got a job! Cue fireworks, jumping for joy, and general fanfare.

Most of the time I was overqualified, or the NO letter read something like this:

“Following our recent advertisement for position X located in the Sydney CBD, we received your application. Both the volume and the high standard of the applications we received meant we were very happy with the response.  After careful consideration we were able identify other applicants that more closely matched our requirements for this role. Therefore in this instance you were unsuccessful in obtaining the position.”

Oh, were you “able” to identify more qualified applications? Was I “unsuccessful?” What does that even mean? Talk about discouraging!

Thankfully, Inspired Adventures “got me.” Inspired Adventures is this amazing company that works with charities to design 2-week adventure travel trips that act as major fundraising tools. Roughly ten to twenty people can go on each adventure, and anyone - from anywhere - can take part! Every trip raises $50,000 to $100,000 for the sponsored charity. I’m in love.

After applying for an Account Manager position, I was asked to consider a separate role that the CEO has designed specifically for me. I’ll be working on new and social media development, targeting new business opportunities, building our corporate challenge opportunities, and rebranding the entire organization. Needless to say, I am PUMPED!!!

The best perk has to be the phenomenal travel opportunities. I’ll be leading at least three trips per year all over the World, including a climb to the top of Mount Kilimanjaro, a trek across the Great Wall, and other Inspired Adventures.

Stay tuned to this space for all the exciting developments, as well as heaps of information about how you, too, can go on your own inspired adventure!

Kyle Taylor